Building a Thriving Organization and the 'Noble Cause' Entrepreneur

By Karli Thode The Office of Innovation Creativity and Entrepreneurship

On Wednesday, January 30, Winston Hall housed a very special visitor. Wake Forest Grad (’85) and current co-founder and CEO of Cherwell Software, Vance Brown, spoke to both students and faculty on the importance of “living out your mission in a noble story that is, by definition, bigger than yourself.” Starting numerous organizations (both for-profit and not-for-profit), it is no secret that Vance has led quite the successful journey as a ‘noble entrepreneur.’

Brown shared many stories and experiences, shedding light on how to build thriving organizations that have the potential to survive the test of time. Beginning with a quote from entrepreneur all-star, Steve Jobs, Brown posed the question “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” Brown shared with students that it takes courage to live life and to make a dent for the good of humanity. “It’s all about connecting the dots along life’s journey.”

Brown went on to discuss the contrasting roles of mercenary and missionary, posing the question ‘How much of entrepreneurship is for the money and how much is for the common good?” The truth is this—you must find a happy balance. There’s no denying that you’re going to have to ‘show people the money’ (in the famous words of Jerry Maguire). A business needs money to survive, but in order to become a noble cause entrepreneur, you also need to make people happy and to inspire others.

So what’s the secret in creating that organizational culture while also maintaining a noble cause? Vance Brown left us with a few helpful hints, and we’d like to share them with you…


  1. Have leadership of a “good” King/Queen. Servant leadership is the best kind of leadership.
  2. Create and be able to articulate a meaningful mission that’s more than about the money.
  3. Promote a unified team/fellowship with healthy conflict resolution.
  4. Give each person a vision for their heroic mission/legacy and give them autonomy in fulfilling their mission.
  5. Focus on people’s strengths (3:1 positive over negative statements)
  6. Create a sense of urgency because you believe the idea comes at a pivotal time in history. Timing is a crucial component, and you never want to pass up an opportunity!


The question is this. Do YOU want to change the world? Becoming a ‘noble entrepreneur’ is certainly no easy task, but with a whole lot of courage, a pinch of passion, and a dash of determination, you will be well on your way in establishing yourself as an entrepreneurial change agent, leaving a positive impact for the good of humanity.